Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Processing Grief

I have a very weird thing about Facebook and some parts of my life.  A terrific example is what occurred this weekend. 

As you may or may not know- Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London flat Saturday.  I didn't know the woman.  I feel she was an incredible talent who was haunted and consumed by her addictions.  When I heard that she passed I was sad.  Sad for a life wasted. Sad for the family she left behind when she died so very young.  Sad that we will never hear the music that could have come from her heart and soul.  If you don't know who the young lady is-my favorite of her songs, Back to Black, can be found on youtube if you click the link.  I feel that she could have been a true modern day torch singer- a genre that is missing from today's world.  I openly discussed this on my facebook page with my friends.  I hope that hers will be a cautionary tale for her fans and for those who may not have "known" her music but have watched the media feed on her addiction. 

Early on Sunday morning, I started seeing posts pop up on Facebook and had a really bad feeling.  You know that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?  I had it until I got to the newspaper in my former hometown and saw that a young man that I had known had passed away this weekend.  I was so shocked that I almost stumbled into my livingroom when I went to tell my husband what had happened.  This young man, a former marine and current police officer, had worked for me for a slice of time while he was in college in between the Marine Corp and getting on with the police department.  Sweet, funny, honest, caring and responsible; those words only touch the surface.  Both my husband and I genuinely liked this young man and he was the kind of man my son could admire.   After I contacted my son, and sat for a bit taking it in, I went back online.  Much of my facebook news feed was filled with RIP messages to this young man.  I just couldn't do it.    I was able to share in some memories with a few mutual friends but I just could not make my status a message "to" him.  A big part of it is that it hurt too much and felt too personal. 

 The second part of me - and maybe this is the weird thing-just doesn't understand public declarations to people who will never see them.  I don't just mean the "rest in peace" messages, but also memorial messages directed to the ones who are gone, birthday messages to small children- anything like that.  This has always been a "thing" with me.  It started with the whole birthday messages thing.  As a member of online groups  for many years- I have never understood leaving messages for little children.  Things like "My little angel is 3 today, Happy birthday X!" and then others chiming in- "Happy Birthday X" blah, blah, blah.  I mean- are they going to hold little "X" up to the screen and say "Look at all the people who wished you a Happy Birthday!"  More- does little "X" even care? 

Does that make me weird or bitter or intolerant?  Could be a little of all three.  I just don't know.  I think that inside me, when it comes to some family things, or to people that are not a part of that online life, or to my grief- there is a disconnect.  I am always happy to wish someone well, to send my condolences or to wish someone a happy birthday or whatever- when the recipient will read it personally.   The other types of messages are like a burr in my saddle.  I don't know why, I just know it is. I do know that there is a piece of me who, while pretty open about so many things  in my life, just holds my grief separate.  It's something I need to process and go through and make sense of, especially when there seems to be little sense to be made, at home with my loved ones.  I can write about it here as I work through it, even knowing that this is public because I can write and write and write, but I can not throw it out there for 300 plus people to see in small written "sound bites".  Here I can delve into things further and work my way through them as I write; there, it's as if my feelings are only allowed to be 420 (or 140) characters or less and that diminshes the whole thing.   I realize and respect that it may be a part of others grief process, but for me, when it is someone that affected my life personally, it just doesn't work and I have to literally walk away and ignore that part of my online life until my stream is overtaken by other things. 

I do find it interesting that it bothers me less when the person is a public figure and someone whose talent I may have enjoyed but never met.  Not that it doesn't niggle in the back of my head but it was far easier for me to see my twitter stream blown up with messages to Amy Winehouse than it was to see facebook covered with messages to my friend.  All a part of that disconnect I guess. 

1 comment:

Eileen said...

Late to the party as ever - but how I agree with you! I thought it was just me being a misery so it is quite a relief to find someone else who feels the same :-)

The leaving of flowers and teddies and things for someone, especially someone you didn't know, is pointless - the only benefits are felt by the local shopkeepers and their suppliers. The prices of such items jump - and think of the vast sums addressed in this way to celebrity death in particular. What are people trying to express? Is it mean to say give the money to the appropriate charities? Am I really unfeeling here?

The other thing I really struggle with is wishing good luck for something already settled - like going to pick up exam results. Luck has nothing to do with it - and even if it did it was before the exam it should have been offered or thought about.

BTW - am enjoying reading back through your blog. I also have an autoimmune arthritis so it is very relevant to me.